Going to the post office can be one of the most mundane—and dreaded—items on your
But if you’ve ever had the chance to visit any of the outposts below, you know that not
all post offices are boring.
Here are 10 crazy post offices that make mail delivery seem exciting…
Peach Springs and Supai, AZ
The post office in Peach Springs, Arizona isn’t much to look at—just a squat yellow
brick building that seems about the right size for a town with a population of just
over 1,000 residents.
The physical facility is unremarkable, except for one unusual feature—the only walk-in
freezer found in a post office in the continental US.
Why does it need this?
The Peach Springs post office has a very unusual mission—delivering mail to the bottom of
the Grand Canyon–and that cargo includes a lot of perishable groceries.
The tiny town of Supai, populated by a few hundred members of the Havasupai tribal nation,
sits at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Supai has its own tiny post office, and residents and tourists are rely on the USPS to deliver
all the provisions that aren’t otherwise available at the bottom of the canyon.
So, after the mail makes the 70-mile trip to the canyon rim from Peach Springs, how
does it get down to Supai?
Helicopter transport is expensive and unreliable, as choppers can’t fly during periods of
Enter the “mule train,” a caravan of up to 50 horses and mules, guided by intrepid
riders, carrying up to 200 pounds each of mail and packages that make the 8-mile trek
down to the base of the canyon and then eventually back up, carrying outgoing mail and trash.
At least 2 mule trains are operating at any given time, so the mules, horses, and riders
are able to rest overnight in the village before making the return trip back up the
Mail sent from Supai bears a special postmark, indicating that it traveled by mule train
to reach its destination.
Despite the inherent difficulty of the journey and the extreme conditions faced by riders
and mules, scheduled mail delivery has only been skipped twice since 1999.
Inside the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower holds a lot of history within its iconic frame, which was originally constructed
for the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris.
It also holds shops, restaurants, a champagne bar, a conference room, a replica of Gustave
Eiffel’s original office at the top of the tower, and one more surprising facility: a
post office, which is found on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower’s south pillar.
While this post office may seem to be a present-day concession to tourists, the Eiffel Tower has
had a post office since it has been open to the public (it was, after all, built for an
exposition designed to attract visitors from around the world).
The original post office was situated at the top of the tower, where, after riding an elevator,
fairgoers could mail postcards from more than 900 feet above ground.
Postmarks from the original post office read “Sommet de la Tour Eiffel” (Summit of
the Eiffel Tower), or, for less intrepid tourists, after the ground floor post office was added,
“1er Etage de la Tour Eiffel” (First floor of the Eiffel Tower) while the contemporary
Eiffel Tower post office offers a more generic postmark, which doesn’t specify its less
exalted present-day location within the tower.
Mount Everest Base Camp, Nepal
With post offices closing by the hundreds across the globe—including in the US, the
UK, South Africa, and Germany—you may find yourself
complaining about the inconvenient “trek” to a more distant post office or having to
contend with more-limited operating hours in your local branch.
However, one post office can put issues of accessibility and availability in perspective—the
China Post office located in the Mount Everest Base Camp.
The post office, which is actually more of a post tent, has been present (seasonally)
at the Everest Base Camp since 2008.
Sitting at 5,300 meters, it’s purported to be the world’s highest post office.
However, because of the extreme weather conditions at this altitude, the post office has a rather
short operating window—from late April to August each year, when conditions permit a
temporary road to open up from base camp to the town of Tingri.
This remote outpost operates from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during those months, not including
a noontime break for the post office’s three workers (apparently, there is no altitude
at which postal workers will not adhere to their break schedules).
There is a markup on the usual postcard rate to compensate for the challenges in transporting
mail from the top of the world to its destination—as of 2016, the post office charged about $1.45
USD to mail a postcard to the UK, whereas elsewhere in Nepal, mailing a postcard would
cost about $0.30 USD.
Underwater (in Vanuatu)
Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific, faces a potentially grim future as the result
of climate change, with some experts suggesting much of the archipelago could eventually be
submerged because of rising sea levels.
However, there is one facility in Vanuatu that is already (deliberately) submerged beneath
the tides—the world’s only underwater post office, located within Vanuatu’s Hideaway
The post office sits about 10 feet below the surface on the ocean floor.
Opening hours are posted on a nearby beach and a special flag is hoisted to float on
the surface when the postal workers (wearing scuba equipment) are staffing the post office.
The post office has been open since 2003 and several Vanuatu Post staff members received
open water dive training to be able to man the location.
Divers or snorklers are able to mail special waterproof postcards at the underwater outpost
(if snorklers can’t dive down to the post office, staff members will help get the postcard
down to the ocean floor).
Because the postcards can’t be cancelled using traditional ink, Vanuatu Post developed
a special embossing device to cancel the postcards.
Aogashima Island, Japan (…on an active volcano)
Why would you put a post office on an active volcano?
Even Vanuatu Post (yes, Vanuatu is apparently at the epicenter of postal innovation), only
put a postal box on the crater of Mt. Yasur, where visitors can mail letters steps away
from molten magma spewing into the air.
However, on Japan’s Aogashima Island, there’s really nowhere else to put a post office—the
island is a volcano (actually 4 overlapping calderas).
The population of the isolated island, less than 200 people, are served by a
tiny post office which transmits mail to and from mainland Japan (Tokyo is about 200 miles
to the south of the island).
Life on the island can be described as “sleepy,” with residents (mainly farmers and fishermen)
enjoying the slow pace of island life, the beauty, and volcanic hot springs that comprise
However, the volcano is still considered active.
The last time the volcano erupted (in 1785), about half the island’s inhabitants perished,
though modern-day inhabitants have the benefit of a volcano alert system that has been operated
by the Japan Meteorological Agency since 2007.
As of 2017, no alerts have been issued for the island, meaning that Aogoshima’s population,
and its tiny post office, have had no cause to consider moving away from their volcanic
Ny-Alesund is the world’s northernmost civilian settlement—an unincorporated town on a peninsula,
home to more than 10 scientific research stations that draw scientists from around the world,
30 year-round residents, and as many 120 residents during the summer.
It is also the site of the world’s northernmost post office.
Whereas the town’s origins are related to mining and expeditions to the North Pole,
today, the town’s activity is largely driven by research and tourism.
Given that the town now enjoys fiberoptic internet connections to the rest of the world,
Ny-Alesund’s tiny post office exists largely to serve tourists, who arrive at the town
via cruise ship.
Ny-Alesund has long served as a base for expeditions to the North Pole and, given that it is the
most proximate post office to Santa Claus’ North Pole workshop, you might expect that
the post office is busy processing letters to Santa from children across the globe.
However, Santa’s mail does not pass through Ny-Alesund.
Instead, that flood of Christmas correspondence is handled by the United States Post Office
in North Pole, Alaska.
Westcott II, Marine Post Office
Even as the US Postal Service makes cutbacks, at least one US post office has found a way
to stay afloat…
Westcott II, a 45-foot mail boat that serves freighters traversing the Detroit River, is
the nation’s (and likely the world’s) only floating post office.
Westcott Company of Detroit has been conveying messages between merchant sailors, who are
often aboard ship for months at a time, and their loved ones since 1874.
Mail delivery began in 1895 and the boat has been a registered post office since 1948.
The company motto is “mail in the pail,” which literally described how the mail, even
today, is often hoisted aboard freighters using a rope and a bucket.
Westcott II even has its own zip code—48222—and mail delivered to the freighters is to be
Vessel Name Marine Post Office
Detroit, MI 48222
Like many post offices, the J.W.
Westcott has seen a decline in mail volume, as email enables families and friends to stay
in touch more immediately, even aboard ship.
However, the company, which also delivers for UPS and FedEx, reports that it has seen
an increase in package delivery.
The company’s contract with the USPS runs to 2021, and the company’s owner sees a
long future for his floating post office, pointing out that he has diversified into
personnel transportation and that drone technology may never be cost-effective enough to compete
in the delivery of low-value bulky goods like paper towels.
The Washington Park and Zoo Railway at the Portland Zoo
Today, the idea of a post office on a train may seem like a quirky novelty, and it doesn’t
help that the only railway left in the US that offers mail service and its own authorized
postal cancellation, was originally planned as a “kiddy train” at the zoo and was
sited to serve Oregon’s 1959 Centennial Celebration.
But while “mail by rail” now seems like an anachronism, it was once the gold standard
for express mail delivery in the United States.
From 1862 to 1977, the Railway Post Office (RPO) operated postal cars, which offered
mail sorting and cancellation on trains that crisscrossed the country, operating on 794
routes at its peak.
However, as mail sorting became an automated task, it was increasingly moved to and from
large regional processing centers by truck.
While the Washington Park and Zoo Railway offers the only postal car operating in the
US on a regular basis, another mail car recently rolled again.
The 40th anniversary of the last RPO rail train was celebrated on May 6, 2017 (which
is National Train Day, in case you didn’t mark your calendar), with the Northern Pacific
#1102, its RPO car (one of only two known to still be in working order) and postmark
coming out of retirement for a one-day commemorative mail run.
Penguin Post Office, Antarctica
One continent’s most popular tourist attraction is its post office.
If you guessed Antarctica, which, despite its abundance of natural beauty, has few other
tourist facilities to compete with its tiny post office, you’re right!
The so-called “Penguin Post Office” is located on the Antarctic Penninsula at Port
Lockroy, Antarctica, making it the world’s most southerly post office.
The post office, which is operated by the UK Heritage Trust on behalf of the government,
is open for less than 5 months a year (during the Antarctic summer from November to May).
Who uses the post office?
While Port Lockroy has thousands of residents, most of them are penguins, so the 70,000 post
cards that are sent annually from the office come mostly from the 18,000 or so tourists
who arrive every year via cruise ship.
Manning a post office at the bottom of the world, a role that pays $1,700 a month, and
involves, as one member of the four-person team staffing the post office put it, “being
confined to an island the size of a football pitch,” may not seem like everyone’s cup
Nonetheless, hundreds of applicants have vied for a spot in recent years, perhaps inspired
by documentaries on the Penguin Post Office that aired on the BBC and PBS.
China Post Space Office aboard the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft, 213 miles above Earth
The final post office on our list is out of this world—literally.
Established in 2011, the “China Post Space Office,” has two outposts—one on the ground
of mission control at the Beijing Aerospace Command and one more than 200 miles above
the Earth in the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft.
The post office even has its own zipcode—901001—and a special postmark that reads “Beijing”
and “Space” in simplified Chinese.
Mail will be processed through the terrestrial branch, but emails can be routed through a
computer aboard the unmanned spacecraft before returning to Earth to be printed out for commemorative
While this roundabout virtual space mail may be exciting only to true space aficionados,
officials have indicated that future iterations will allow the public to send letters to astronauts
and/or allow physical mail to be transported to space before returning to Earth for delivery.